The One World Trade Observatory opened to the public this weekend and I took myself and my camera for a first visit.
I had arrived too early to get on line which gave me half an hour to take a few shots of the Freedom Tower and surrounding buildings. There is still an amazing amount of construction going on around this area including the much hated Calatrasaurus, a huge white fan like piece of architecture that, will be part of the new World Trade Center Transportation hub. I kind of liked it, it looks like a huge gull about to take flight. I walked over to St. Paul’s Chapel cemetery which is noted for withstanding a major fire in 1776, was where George Washington prayed after his inauguration, and it survived the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
Standing on line, waiting to enter the building for the tour, I took photos of the tower from the ground up as it ascended through the clouds towards the sun. To say I took “a lot” of shots, of this newest addition to the Manhattan skyline, is an understatement. It took me back to the time when I first photographed the late Twin Towers back in 1990; I felt an equal mix of nostalgia, sadness and excitement.
Once inside and through the checkpoints, it is a short stroll through a cavern like walkway, the walls lined with metamorphic rock or Schist which is what the Manhattan skyline is built upon. Then we passed through a dark corridor, with visual presentations of the people who helped to build the new tower and lastly a huge moving wall of iconic New York City images, before being led to the elevator banks.
One of the high points (no pun intended) of getting to the top of the tower is the high speed Sky Pod elevator ride to the 102nd floor. When the doors close a visual time-lapsed journey is projected onto the surrounding elevator walls, taking you through Manhattan’s history from the 1500’s to the present day as you rocket to the top in just 48 seconds! I loved it! I could have ridden that elevator 6 times in a row and would still have been thrilled.
Once on the observation deck, I stepped in front of a window and saw this city through the eyes of a bird soaring up above the urban chaos, scanning the cityscape of the outer boroughs and Jersey City. I then lowered my eyes downward to a dizzying view of the roof tops of some of the tallest buildings in Manhattan. I felt like a “Peeping-Tom” peering through my lens down into the life of this city. It looked like a table top landscape with tiny toy cars and buses and dark ribbons of road, puddles of water, and delicate bridges of sticks and thread. For a brief moment it makes one feel big and powerful, like a giant.
Note: Shooting through these tall wide windows was tricky as they were very reflective and slightly dirty. I spent quite a bit of time in post processing removing color cast, dirty streaks and cloning or cropping out reflections.
After making a circumnavigation of the observatory I stepped back to observe my fellow tourist’s reactions to the views I’d just captured. These turned out to be my favorite images especially, the two young couples sitting in adjacent windows exhibiting a modern-day contrast in communication: Face to Face or Face to Phone, your choice.
When I had come back down to terra firma I paid a visit to the 911 Memorial, took a few minutes to read the many names of the people whose lives were taken during the attack. I noticed people reaching out and laying their hands on the names as if in a quiet moment of respect.
The last images of the day were taken as I switched trains at 42nd street and stopped to listen to a music ensemble as it rocked the station off its tracks.
Enjoy the views!